Remembering 9/11 in Wake of Osama Bin Laden's Death
The jubilation that came with news of the death of Osama bin Laden, from Ground Zero to Times Square to the White House, was in many ways offset by remembrance of the genesis of the largest manhunt in history – the terrorist attacks that claimed nearly 3,000 lives.
The death of the al Qaeda leader in a compound in Pakistan on Sunday was bittersweet, if only because the apparent justice carried out on the man largely responsible for the 9/11 attacks only reminded Americans of heartbreak on Sept. 11, 2001.
"Nearly 3,000 citizens taken from us, leaving a gaping hole in our hearts," President Barack Obama said in announcing the death of bin Laden. "September 11, 2001, and our time of grief, the American people came together."
The lost lives spanned across countless races and ethnicities, underscoring the universal hurt and seemingly erasing, if but for a moment, trivial differences Americans heretofore had with each other.
There were white men, women, Latinos, blacks, Asians, Pacific Islanders, among many others.
The victims included 1,593 white men who died in the attacks, or 61 percent of the victims.
Three-hundred ninety-one white women were killed on that fateful day. Of the Latino victims, there were 166 men and 81 women; 128 black men and 79 women; and 112 Asian and Pacific Islander men and 53 women.
"September 11, 2001 and our time of grief, the American people came together," Obama said. "We offered our neighbors a hand and we offered the wounded our blood.
"We reaffirmed our ties to each other and our love of community and country," the president added. "On that day, no matter where we came from, what God we prayed to, or what race or ethnicity we were, we were united as one American family."
And now, nearly 10 years later, the killing of the Osama bin Laden, whose jihad against the United States culminated with 9/11, Americans are seemingly once again united, in joy and grief.
"The killing of Osama bin Laden does not lessen the suffering that New Yorkers and Americans experienced at his hands, but it is a critically important victory for our nation – and a tribute to the millions of men and women in our armed forces and elsewhere who have fought so hard for our nation," said New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.
"New Yorkers have waited nearly 10 years for this news," Bloomberg added. "It is my hope that it will bring some closure and comfort to all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001."
In 2002, New York laid out a painstaking profile of the victims.
Among Latinos, in particular, the dead included 18 Colombians and 13 Ecuadorians. Six of the victims were from Cuba, while another four were Argentina.
Fifteen Mexicans were killed in the attacks; one was from Chile.
As many as 43 Dominicans died on Sept. 11, 2001; seven victims from neighboring Haiti were killed, too.
There were victims from El Salvador, Honduras, Perú, Venezuela, Paraguay, and countless other victims with Latino roots.
"The images of 9/11 are seared into our national memory," Obama said Sunday night. "Hijacked planes cutting through a cloudless September sky, twin towers collapsing to the ground, black smoke billowing up from the Pentagon. The wreckage of flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania where the actions of heroic citizens saved even more heartbreak and destruction."
"And yet we know that the worst images are those that were unseen to the world: the empty seat at the dinner table, children who are forced to grow up without their mother or their father, parents who would never know the feeling of their child's embrace," he added.
Those victims will be forever remembered in the 9/11 Memorial, which is scheduled to open on the 10th anniversary of the attacks in a ceremony for the victims' families.
"I hope the families of the victims of the September 11th attacks will sleep easier tonight and every night hence knowing that justice has been done," said Arizona Sen. John McCain.
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